Positively Midlife Podcast

The 2023 Dozen Health Challenge

January 18, 2023 Season 2 Episode 4
Positively Midlife Podcast
The 2023 Dozen Health Challenge
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tish and Ellen vow to make getting all the health tests, and screenings a priority in 202.  Some of the tests and screenings you are sure to already know about, and there may be some that are new to you.  All of them are key to getting a baseline for your health in midlife.

They've put together their list of the "must do" tests, screenings, and other health tasks to get the 2023 Healthy Dozen done.  Tish and Ellen come at the topic from totally different sides; Tish feels so overwhelmed and tends to avoid getting started on health screenings whereas Ellen shares that she loves to get tests done and is actively engaged with her doctor! Ellen and Tish put together a plan for Tish to get the 12+ tests, screenings, and vaccines completed this year -  many of which can be handled in a single visit to a health practitioner.

Let's get organized this year and make health our number one priority.

Things we talked about in this episode: Pink Rice Cooker, Irish Oatmeal, protein powder, farro, chia seeds, Empire of Light movie, Olivia Coleman, The Dozen Tests, Screenings, and Vaccines at midlife, why do people avoid doctors?  Making health a priority. What tests are more specific to women in Midlife?  Primary Care Physicians can refer, coordinate and schedule most of these.

Obsessions:
Tish:  so cute Pink Rice Cooker and Irish Oatmeal
Ellen:  Empire of Light movie with Oliva Coleman

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Smells Like Humans
Like listening to funny friends discuss curious human behavior.

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Ellen Gustafson:

Hey, Tish, do you make health resolutions in the new year?

Tish Woods:

You know, I think I'm like everybody, I make all these health resolutions, how I'm going to go to the gym more often how I'm going to start some new activities. You know, I'm going to walk more every day. And, you know, some of them I stick with, and some of them I have a little hard time holding to. But what about you, Alan? What are you one of these people that on New Year's Eve, you become a resolutionist.

Ellen Gustafson:

You know, I'm not, I have started setting intentions for the new year rather than resolutions. And one of those intentions is to really keep up with my health in a way that might seem kind of basic, but I want to make sure that I get all my tests, all my screenings, my vaccines and checkups completed in 2023. Really, make sure I've got that baseline.

Tish Woods:

Oh, wow. Okay, so I've got a little something to admit, you know, I'm an avoider. I am not good about doing my checkups. I'm not good about my screenings, or tests or vaccines. Except for the COVID. One, I'm not good at keeping up with these things. And I don't know why.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's so interesting, because I know you've had some serious health problems in the past. And I mean, maybe that's the root of it, right? If you avoid you don't know, and you don't have to deal. But we should definitely talk about our obsessions and then jump into why you're an avoider and what we can do about that. And 2023 So Tish, on your obsession, what do you got for me this week?

Tish Woods:

Okay, so I am obsessed with my little baby rice cooker. So what I've realized is rice cookers are not just for rice, okay. I make all kinds of things. And then I make my grits in them. I just started eating a lot of Irish oatmeal, and I could make that in it. And it just so easy. I had it all measured out last night. And all I'd had to do is you know, put the water in and and turn it on and it was done. I love these little rice cookers and being you know, single person at home. You know, it's just so convenient. So I feel like I'm not going to quick foods, but I'm actually you know, cooking healthier foods. But yeah, I love using it for rice. I love using it for grits. And recently, I really started into this Irish oatmeal cook. You know,

Ellen Gustafson:

I love my mini rice cooker too. I have one and I love to make oatmeal in it. And I've started really adding some great ingredients to my oatmeal that I make in my rice cooker. I put a scoop of plant based protein powder, I put some chia seeds. So I think it's a great way you can really amp it up.

Tish Woods:

I like that because I've just been kind of going, you know, a couple reasons on top. So I like that where you can kind of get a little bit more protein in there, you know, make it where it sticks to you a little bit longer. But yeah, what else do you make in your rice cooker?

Ellen Gustafson:

You know, I make the far out. I know on a prior podcast, we chatted about how much I love farro and I put it with arugula and put a poached egg on it. The great thing is that you can just make the farro and put it in the fridge and have it for salads. And I also save some of the rice. And I make fried rice the next day because fried rice is the best when you've cooked the rice and it's been chilled.

Tish Woods:

So you know if you've ever if you're ever in Yeah, absolutely. that position where you're cooking for one or two, and you don't want to be making these huge pots of rice, or you know other things like oatmeal. This is a great go to little item. It's small, it's convenient, it doesn't take up all your counterspace or anything easily stored away. So let's put a couple links on to some of the things that we use with our rice cookers and rice for good. What about you, Ellen? What is your obsession for this week?

Ellen Gustafson:

My obsession this week is a movie. And you know, we talked about this before we both love to go to movies, and I haven't been doing it that much since COVID. But I saw a great movie called Empire of Light. And it's starring Olivia Coleman. And this is not a mainstream movie that's playing on like every cinema screen everywhere. It's a little bit quirky and offbeat. Huge. And I know Olivia Coleman, who is such a fabulous actress. She's really why went to see it with a friend. And it is set in 1980s. England, it's set around a movie theater and the quirky people who work there. And it's about some really heavy, great topics mental health, schizophrenia, racism, trying to pull yourself out of, you know where you are in life. And I can't recommend it enough. She, I believe is up for a Golden Globe and perhaps an Academy Award for it. So I highly recommend it.

Tish Woods:

I'm gonna have to check that one out. You know, sometimes I'm in the mood for these light hearted, silly stuff, or romantic. And then sometimes I want something thought provoking. This definitely sounds like one of those thought provoking movies that kind of deals with real life issues. So it would definitely be up my alley. So empire of light. Gotta check that one out.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, yeah, I'll put a link to kind of the description of the film. But okay, I need you to spill the beans with me to this avoidance issue around health and testing.

Tish Woods:

Well, I will say that I do get yearly bloodwork done, okay. And to be very honest with everyone and transparent, I only do that because my health care coverage plan gives me $50 off a month, if I get this bloodwork done by the end of the year. So I do it.

Ellen Gustafson:

So I see bribing you with a $600 discount that year is the way to your heart and help.

Tish Woods:

Yes, that works for me. Yes,

Ellen Gustafson:

yeah. So tell me a little bit like how long has this avoidance been going on?

Tish Woods:

Well, you know, I've had some really serious health issues over the years. And typically, once I'm better, right, I become just very non compliant with my follow up. And when you spend a lot of time in the hospital or with doctors, the last thing you want to do is kind of proactively go back. So my avoidance has been going on, probably for a good two decades.

Ellen Gustafson:

Wow. Okay, I'll repeat. That is not what I thought you were going to say here.

Tish Woods:

Yeah, it's kind of hard for me to admit to be honest.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah. You know, you need to change that right?

Tish Woods:

Well, the first step to admit is admitting you have a problem. And I have a problem. Yes.

Ellen Gustafson:

Okay, well, I'm the ying and the yang here. The funny thing is, and I think you know, this, I love to get my tests and my results and pour over them with my doctor's. So I'm kind of wondering, are there more people like me out there? Or maybe more people like you out there?

Tish Woods:

I wonder? I don't know. I really don't know.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah. But even the fact that I love getting these done, sometimes it's hard, even for me, you know, to keep up on everything that I think we should be doing as women at midlife around our health. And it's more important, as we've talked about, it's more important now than ever, that we keep up with these things.

Tish Woods:

You know, Ellenn, I have to tell you it, because I've avoided for so long, you know, I just feel so overwhelmed and kind of really vulnerable right now. I think I'm overwhelmed with an idea of where do I even begin? What doctors do, what tasks and who do I need prescriptions from? And can I just walk into the pharmacy and get stuff done? Or do I need that script? I mean, I really don't know. And the doctor that I had that I actually liked, she moved practices, kind of right at the beginning of COVID. I don't know where she went, and well, I need to find a doctor. And unfortunately, that's not an easy task for somebody with my health history.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, I know, in the past, you've shown up for appointments or, you know, doctors have told you they wouldn't take you because of your history and even a horrible er experience for you where doctors really refuse to treat you. But you know, you need to start somewhere,

Tish Woods:

right? Yes. Okay. So I'm going to commit to finding a doctor and then I'll go from there. And but I think it would be a great idea for me, and I probably for a lot of other people is, you know, what type of things does a woman especially in midlife. What are those things we need to do? What things? What are the tests? What are the screenings and vaccines that we need to start doing once we start hitting our 50s? And more?

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, that's a great question. And I'm going to make it super easy for everybody by providing check a checklist of what tests and screenings are recommended or suggested and kind of which doctors or places you can go to to get those completed.

Tish Woods:

Okay, and I'm going to nervously embrace this idea of proactively making health and wellness my top priority here in 2023.

Ellen Gustafson:

I am so proud to hear you say that Tish and I will hold your feet to the fire on this, but please do. Yeah, first, I think I can just run through really quickly, what the top health concerns are for women over 50. And once we understand these concerns, we'll have a better idea of why these screenings and tests are important. Okay, so bone and joint issues, cancer risk continence or incontinence, memory loss and brain fog, menopause, obesity, vascular health vision, and the last V is vitality. Those are the concerns.

Tish Woods:

Okay, well, I can see how many of these things are concerns for women at midlife. And I also see that a lot of these are probably interconnected, like a great example would be obesity. If you are obese, you have an increased risk of cancer joint issues inconstance, vision problems, diabetes, hack diabetes alone will bring on a whole host of additional issues. Just having that one condition. So I get this feeling that if we can get one issue under control, that maybe will have a positive effect on the entire list. Right.

Ellen Gustafson:

Exactly. You know, and I think it's great to address these concerns before they result in major health issues. I mean, we can't stick our head in the sand here. And knowing what to look for, I think will help us really stay on top of the tests, the screenings, and whatever else you want to do around your health. You know,

Tish Woods:

I just think it would be amazing if I could go into an appointment, and kind of have my doctor helped me create this whole plan of health screenings, you know, to kind of just get me make sure that I'm touching all these bases, because it's not all under one doctor. But I feel like one doctor has to be in charge.

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, it's true though, if you have a great primary care physician, that person can really help you understand everything you need to do, and help simplify it. But here's a list of some of the things you might want to include Tish, this is a list, it's kind of long, it could involve multiple doctors. So taking charge and creating a comprehensive plan is the key strategy. And I think we're going to call this doing your dozen because there are 12 of them.

Tish Woods:

I love that idea of doing your dozen. And it's kind of like our ABCs of tests and screenings and vaccines that every woman really needs when she's over 50. So Ellen, let's kind of walk through kind of quickly, you know, we're not going to go into depth or anything, but let's just walk through quickly what this list looks like.

Ellen Gustafson:

Great. And once we go through the list, I know we're going to touch on each of these in a little bit more detail. But okay, blood pressure, a comprehensive blood panel, including your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood glucose and testing for hep C and things like that, as well as a breast cancer screening. I know we've talked about the mammograms at length here on the podcast.

Tish Woods:

Cervical cancer screenings are really important with that pelvic exam and pap smears, even post childbirth and I think some women kind of forget that. colonoscopy, colonoscopies and colorectal cancer screenings are so important. And even something like depression screening.

Ellen Gustafson:

Agree. Also having a hormone profile here at midlife is is really informative. I'm all for immunizations and if you are to then you know get the flu. Tetanus, I needed a tetanus vaccine a couple of years ago, I couldn't believe it as well as shingles, which is super painful because I've had it and then a memory screening I think this is really interesting are the mini mental state examination.

Tish Woods:

Okay, that's a new one. Osteoporosis screening that bone density, you know, joint care assessment, it kind of goes hand in hand, you know, because the average age for a lot of knee replacements is 45 to 65. So we're right in that, you know, we're right in the thick of that skin and mold checks from a dermatologist and vision exams. Well, that's the list. And I realized from going through that list that I do get my mammograms done as well. So I told you before, my favorite wine bar has this mobile van that comes around, and I get screened every year, and I get my free glass of wine.

Ellen Gustafson:

See, um, see, you've done something on the list there, Tish. But I'm seeing a pattern of you needing to have some motivation to get these tests done. And we all know that a mammogram saved my life. So you know, I can't talk enough about that.

Tish Woods:

You know, some people call it bribery. Some people call it motivation, I don't know, it's kind of depends the way you look at it. Now, there are conditions that we do hear a lot about, and it's in the news such as breast cancer, I think they've done an amazing job with getting the word out about getting mammograms, and so you hear about it a lot. But there are other tests that you know about conditions that are super, you know, invasive to our lives, that we might not hear as much about and that we, as mid lifers need to be concerned about to what would what would be an example of that.

Ellen Gustafson:

Um, some other conditions around? Well, I think H, the H P. V, you know, where some of us could be getting cervical cancer, from having caught that in the past, and really making sure that we're on top of that, because, you know, ladies of our generation women of our generation, we are really at risk for that one.

Tish Woods:

What about the cardiovascular disease? How does that play into women at our age?

Ellen Gustafson:

I think it's shocking Tish that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and for women in the United States. And I always think it's cancer. But knowing and understanding your numbers around blood pressure, and cholesterol, all my girlfriend's are talking about blood pressure, and cholesterol right now, having had starting to get high blood pressure, those numbers can help you have a more productive discussion with your doctor around heart disease, if it runs in your family. And I have to say, one of our Trinity friends, she just went to a cardiologist kind of proactively because cardiovascular disease runs in her family.

Tish Woods:

I think it runs in both of ours, too, doesn't it? I know, it runs in mine. That that should be you know, definitely something. And I know in the past that I've had screenings for that. So um, you know, I think we need to not forget about kind of like blood sugar levels, and you know, the different risk factors for things such as high blood pressure, and cholesterol and gestational diabetes, and, you know, just just a general, you know, family history of diabetes. So I think those are all, you know, quite important as well. Yep. Now, let's talk about the colonoscopy, the dreaded colonoscopy. Ellen, have you had one of these?

Ellen Gustafson:

Yes, I have. And I'm gonna tell you, I put it off because it freaked me out so much. And I did one of those add home test kits. And it made me actually go have a colonoscopy. But when I finally did it, it was so easy. I don't know why I built it up in my head to be something just so scary, but I'm super happy I did it. And even though colorectal cancer doesn't run in my family, we have everything else. Like we've just talked about heart disease, you know, diabetes, but um, they found a number of issues. And now I have to go back every three years. So I'm so happy I did it. It's on my routine. And I have to say once you have the great big clean out, wrap.

Tish Woods:

I promise. Okay, I have had one years ago, but I gotta tell you, this is the one that I've really been putting off the most. And I have canceled two different occasions recently on having kind of the follow through for it. So this is really my big scary monster that like is waiting for me under my bed kind of thing. And, you know, I'm not really sure you know why? Because I have had it done. So and I remember going and thinking, I remember saying to the staff, so when are you going to start and they go we're done. So, right, that's how easy it is. But, again, I think part of it for me is the issues that this will bring up on. These are, what my mom had, and the complications that she had from colorectal issues are really what led to her passing away. So I think it's kind of emotionally charged for me. And I think that's my sticking my head in the sand moment. And I think I need to pull it out and put on my big girl panties and get it done.

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, I can see that that would be a natural reason to shy away from it. But I feel like for this year, it's even more reason for you to jump on it with your commitment to your health.

Tish Woods:

So you know, we talk about a dozen tasks. I mean, that sounds so overwhelming. To me, that's part of the overwhelming, like, I don't even know where to begin. Well,

Ellen Gustafson:

I mean, first of all, let's not be scared of the number 12 here because a good number of these can be taken care of all at once in an annual physical with your primary care physician. So one and done for a lot of these blood pressure a blood panel hormones, immunisation, I mean, my doctor primary care even offers to do a pap, like a you know, for me, so not even a reason to go to an OB. So I think if you think about it that way, finding your new primary care physician and getting this kind of baseline right, there would be good for you.

Tish Woods:

Now it Do you think that if you know, depression or memory loss, you know, that memory brain fog that we keep talking about, are those concerns that should be brought up at that type of appointment, that initial yearly checkup?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, you know, I bring everything up, because I'm a tester and a talker with my primary care physician all the time. And we've even talked about sleep, she referred me to a sleep study a sleep per specialist that I could go to, but we've talked about depression, and anxiety. Um, so she can also write the order for a mammogram. And I think that that's really, the way to start is through that and you will with your primary care physician, and most of your doctors, they'll help you with anything. I mean, she talks about the bone density there, too. So we have not brought up memory loss. But it's something now I'll add to my list for next time. Okay, I

Tish Woods:

like that I like you've added to your list, you've got some homework to do, too. So what does that leave? Once we go through, you know, going through our primary, and they set up all these other things? What's left? What does that leave for us to still do?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, I mean, an eye exam and seeing the dentist twice a year and I know you've had an eye exam because you and I both got contacts last year that were disastrous, but that's for another podcast.

Tish Woods:

Yeah, that's for another podcast. Yeah, I still haven't used mine. So. Okay, so the dentists if we're going to add the dentist to that list from that, where we started out, well, that's going to make us a baker's dozen now. And okay, so, I gotta admit, I'm not feeling quite so overwhelmed. Now, do all of these things need to be done every single year?

Ellen Gustafson:

No, like we said, the colonoscopy if everything comes out, great. I think that's five years. And, but things like you know, skin checks. If you are somebody that has a lot of moles, those should probably be every year, but good to discuss again with your primary care physician, but no, not everything has to be done. Bone density is not annual. So, you know, I think we could do all of these with let me way less than 12 appointments.

Tish Woods:

Okay, so, to me, it's sounding like we're really in the five, you know, five different appointments, we probably could get it all taken care of. So that isn't so overwhelming. Okay, so I'm feeling I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable. You're making me more comfortable on things. Okay, so I know we spoken before but and that I do go to the mammogram mobile unit at my you know, where my wine bar has it and stuff. You know, I'm starting to think that maybe other doctors should offer like wine services and maybe even a cupcake cart or something. Because then they buy me right into those. I don't know. But so once we get all of these tests and screenings and vaccines and we've had our annual then what what's our next

Ellen Gustafson:

step? Well, I call it Two "E"s we're gonna maintain our health through good, awesome eating, and exercise.

Tish Woods:

Okay, so what do you consider to be healthy eating? Everyone has a different definition of this, but what do you consider healthy eating?

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, there's so many things out there. But for me, you know, little or no processed foods is really important. Moderation. And I try and follow the Mediterranean diet. So plant based foods, whole grains, veggies, things like lentils, you know, fruits, nuts, and all of that. So not a lot of meat, just more fish and getting my protein through some some veggie, veggie sources. What about you Tish on your diet,

Tish Woods:

you know, I have really made a huge concerted effort in the last year to almost completely eliminate fast food. I just the amount of preservatives and whatnot that are in fast food just really concerns me. So kind of going back to not having prepackaged pre, you know, done foods like going back and eating from scratch. I mean, my gosh, my mom and my grandmother's, they cooked with butter and all kinds of things. And we were much healthier. So I really think there's a really bad connection between processing and food. And so again, so that's been one of my big things and just cutting down on the excessive use of carbs. I don't go completely carb free. I know a lot of people love that type of, but I try to really think about more vegetables, smaller portions in general. When I do do like a beef and stuff like that, it's more rare on a more rare occasion that I you know, have those but it's just, again, just quantity quantities are much smaller.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, kind of sounds like keto diet a little bit there, too. Right? Right. And I know you've worked really hard in this past year to completely change your diet. That's why I was interested just to hear a little bit more about it. So you love to exercise. And I know you love pickleball and walking, but what are some of the other ways you fit in exercise?

Tish Woods:

You know, it doesn't always have to mean, I think any type of activity is really what the goal should be, you know, because not everybody is an organized like, you know, I want to go play an organized pickleball or tennis or something like that. And I think there's ways and some people aren't gym people either, right. So I think there's other ways that we can add in more activity, you know, just in our general day. And, you know, if you just think about, like, if you can just take 30 minutes a day, you have some type of moderate exercise, this can really help keep you on track both physically and mentally, right. So with a little planning, I think we can become more active things like, you know, park your car as far from the entrance as you possibly can. That's something simple. That's just something really simple, but it adds up.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's a good one. You know, what I do is I try and break up my day into a couple of short walks like at lunch or, you know, a quick one in the morning with my dog, even if it's 10 minutes, and those add up to

Tish Woods:

you know, I don't go into an office environment anymore. You know, I work from home, but when I did, I would really instead of taking that elevator many times I got in the habit of taking the stairs, it was a really great habit, and it did make me feel better.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, I like that one. And, you know, I'm gonna put this one out there. You might laugh but cleaning your house is exercise. Okay,

Tish Woods:

scrubbing we need to cancel our housekeepers. Right,

Ellen Gustafson:

that's right, but you can burn some significant calories, Put on the music, keep up the tempo and clean away.

Tish Woods:

Yeah, the other thing that I've been known to do is say that I'm out at the grocery store and especially on days that are like not really nice outside to get other types of exercise. I will purposely keep making lap after lap on the store. I'll go from the vegetables to the dairy which is on the very other side of my grocery store. And I then I go back and get another vegetable and then I actually make my trip so much longer just to get some steps and exercise and I know that might sound crazy because people usually like to get in and out. But yeah, and and they always recommend to that you do not shop on the interior of your grocery store that you should stay on the outside of the loop. That's where all the healthier foods are.

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, I do always do a couple extra laps at Costco because that place is huge. You can really get a lot of steps in and, yoep know, a lot of times I do like what I call a walk and talk where I call a friend and walk away and talk that way.

Tish Woods:

We've had many of our conversations talking about different episodes that we're gonna do over the phone when we're out, you know, talk, walking, our dogs are just taking a walk for ourselves. So I like that I like you know, taking that opportunity. So, involve your children, your grandchildren, you know, challenge, challenge the kids to jumping jacks or dance with toddlers, whatever it is, you know, find your favorite music and just keep moving.

Ellen Gustafson:

Hey, you could put on the positively midlife podcast and take a walk right? Tish?

Tish Woods:

Yes, definitely, that should be at the top of your list to put on the Positively Midlife Podcast, and take a walk every day. Listen to episodes more than once. We don't mind.

Ellen Gustafson:

Agreed. But I'd love this idea of sneaking in bits of exercise throughout the day. And and sometimes I'm exhausted just from cleaning my house to I can say, but, you know, I have to say this has been a great episode for us to really re calibrate our health and staying on top of our Health here in 2023 is so important and even more important at midlife. So having those baseline tests really helps you to have those conversations with your doctor about your health. And I think we've made doing the doesn't seem doable today. What do you think Tish?

Tish Woods:

Yes, I am recommitting to myself and to all of you that I will make 2023 the year that I keep up with my dozen. And make this the year that you know it's a time to keep, you know, to keep our health as one of the most important things that we do and we work on and let's get our baker's dozen on our health resolutions up and keep them for ourselves.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's right. So I will post that checklist for everybody in our show notes. And I know Tish and I will share how we're doing maybe here at the midpoint,

Tish Woods:

sure. Accountability, accountability,

Ellen Gustafson:

accountability. So you know, thank you for joining our podcast today. We'd love it if you could give us a review wherever you get your podcast content and till next time mid lifers till

Tish Woods:

next time

(Cont.) The 2023 Dozen Health Challenge